Monday, January 16, 2006

Other than winning The Golden Globe Awards, the film "Syriana" and the banks have much in common (

[Editors note: On Nov. 16th, we first published the below commentary and are republishing it again after the film's success at The Golden Globe Awards]

(Nov 16, 2005) U.S. Senator Diane Feinstein's office invited the co-editors of The Credit Card Interchange Report - to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in Los Angeles on Nov 12th for an advance screening of the Warner Bros. political thriller "Syriana".

Editing of the film by executive producer Steven Soderbergh, who directed "Traffic" and "Erin Brockovich," just completed last week.

Staring George Clooney and Matt Damon, this ambicious movie will be released in December. It involves brokering back-room deals in Washington and the intrigues and corruption within the global oil industry. The multiple storylines are weaved together to illuminate the human consequences from the fierce pursuit of wealth and power.

Why is this important to the credit card interchange litigation against Visa, MasterCard and its member banks?

The powerful U.S. oil companies fictionally portrayed in Syriana were involved in complex corruption and corporate mischief with explosive impact upon the world. While the backdrop for Syriana involves the global oil industry, there are many parallels to the depths of illegal corporate maneuvering we assert are practiced by the banks which own Visa and MasterCard. Their collusive price-fixing and global reach parallels many aspects of this fictional movie about failures of government.

Syriana illuminates the inner workings of what easily can relate to the banking industry and the executives who keep it running. In portraying the considerable influence and exploitation through many points of view, there are startling parallels to the fight against the multinational banks' anticompetitive practices.

Just as "The China Syndrome" in the late 1970s, "Wall Street" in the 1980s and "Erin Brockovich" in the 1990s drew attention to corporate greed, so too will this film.

Gordon Gekko's "Greed is good" speech in "Wall Street," symbolized a decade. Yet that famed phrase is about to be overshadowed by the new corporate-speak from actor Tim Blake Nelson in Syriana:

"We have laws against corruption precisely so we can get away with it. Corruption is our protection. Corruption keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why you and I are prancing around in here instead of fighting over scraps of meat out in the street. Corruption ... Is why we win."